Jakarta, Aug 20 (IANS) A group of 177 Indonesians were detained in the Philippines on Saturday after attempting to board a flight to Saudi Arabia for the annual Haj pilgrimage using fake Philippine passports.
The Indonesians were reportedly about to board an early morning flight on Friday to Medina when they were apprehended by immigration personnel at Manila International Airport, who discovered that the group were unable to speak any Philippine language or dialect, EFE news reported.
An official at the Bureau of Immigration said that investigations into the identities of the Indonesians and the source of their fake passports was underway.
The official added that the detainees were expected to be deported in the coming days.
According to local media reports, five Filipinos who were supposed to accompany the group on the trip were also arrested.
Initial investigations suggest the detainees were given Philippine passports to enable them to join this year’s Haj pilgrimage, expected to run from September 9 to 14, using the quota reserved for Filipino pilgrims by the Saudi government.